In 2013, I made my last student loan payment and became debt-free. Now, I get to shift my focus 100% to building wealth, both for myself and for others.
Once you're debt-free, it becomes an entirely different game.
Yet, I understand how hard it is to even get to this point. So many of us are starting from negative. And while I don't want to discount anyone's struggles, this is especially true when you're a black woman.
As the chart below illustrates, women in the U.S. have more college debt in all racial groups, and college debt is the highest for black people, regardless of gender.
In a world where we all had equal access to financial education and economic opportunities, this bar chart would look very different.
I began working as a writer at the age of 15 to provide for my daughter. I knew the value of hard work but did not understand the value of money. That's why becoming debt-free means a lot more to me than just not having a monthly payment to worry about anymore.
It means having overcome huge odds (in the form of both inner and outer struggle), and helping to balance out inequality by "going first" myself.
So you wanna know the secret to how I paid off so much debt in such a short amount of time?
I made the journey about something more than just myself.
When I decided to start my debt-free journey, knowing that my story would: 1) change the trajectory of my family's future, 2) and inspire possibility in others were HUGE sources of motivation for me.
The moment I made it about something bigger than myself, that stirred me to action.
Of course, I have some practical debt-payoff tips and strategies as well, which I talk about in my new book, Live Freely, Freedom to Work Whenever, Wherever. But truly, the SECRET SAUCE was finding my big "why".
Because without a powerful "why", all the tips and strategies in the world will be useless, because you won't take action on them.
So what's it gonna be for you?
Do you want to be the first person in your family to become debt-free?
Do you want to become an example for others who come from the same race, gender, background, etc?
Do you want to leave a legacy for your children?
Do you want to have a surplus of money to help make the world a better place?
Dig deep. I know you have it in you.
And I hope that in my story, you find inspiration to build from wherever you are. Even if your starting point is zero (or negative).